Daily Monitor in its Sunday publication wrote an editorial in which the paper labors to draw a moral equivalence regarding the bad relations between Rwanda and Uganda, which has escalated over the past couple of years.
The editorial entitled “get border peace talks back on track” goes on to call upon leaders of Uganda and Rwanda to “make the effort to normalize ties” when the follow up meeting of the ad-hoc Committee on the MoU, signed in August, next meets in the Ugandan capital.
The Monitor’s editorial gets it spectacularly wrong right from word go, by making the issue between both countries as one of “border closure”, when the underlying factors are totally opposite, as Rwanda has laid down in clear terms.
One is the fact that Kampala openly is in bed with Kayumba Nyamwasa’s RNC, and other groups bent on destabilizing Rwanda. The other is the hundreds of innocent Rwandans languishing in Ugandan prisons, or in the torture dungeons of Uganda’s intelligence services.
These are people that have been abducted, and jailed with no benefit of a court hearing. Hundreds are in custody but not allowed consular visits, and neither do their families know where most are. They have suffered torture, as attorneys such as Eron Kiiza and Tony Odur of Kiiza and Mugisha Advocates have indicated.
The Monitor simply skates over those issues in its false equivalences; and in its eager advocacy for the opening of the Rwandan market to Ugandan businesses.
Rwanda never closed the border, as corroborated by media reports. What happened was a partial halt to heavy commercial trucks.
The facts are not what The Daily Monitor seems interested in however. The paper simply is enabling Museveni’s machinations by omitting mention of the genesis of the current strained relations between the two countries. It deliberately misleads through implications that “both sides have legitimate grievances against the other”!
When it was Uganda’s turn to call the follow-up meeting, it did not. The Kampala meeting of the ad-hoc Committee should have taken place in the Ugandan capital a fortnight ago. It did not. Kampala had committed to present a progress report on how far it has come in addressing the grievances tabled by Rwanda.
The demands include the release of all Rwandans detained illegally in Uganda and ceasing support to terror groups working to destabilize Rwanda, as well as commitment to put an end to economic sabotage that Uganda has inflicted on Rwanda.
“Why is Daily Monitor not wondering why Uganda has failed to call a meeting?,” observers asked. “Or why doesn’t the paper ask why the Ugandan government hasn’t said how far it is in implementing what the MoU says on jailed, tortured Rwandans that have not received due process? Or why it isn’t dismantling RNC networks?”
It is no secret that Rwandans going about their business in Uganda have been snatched off the streets, in broad daylight by CMI operatives working with RNC agents. It is common knowledge that countless Rwandans have been pulled off buses in the border areas and slapped with accusations, either of “illegal entry”, or “espionage”.
Just a couple of weeks back Kiiza and Odur issued a statement in which they detailed the suffering Rwandans have endured in Uganda, particularly over the last two years.
“Over 100 Rwandans are in illegal CMI detention and held incommunicado. Their relatives can’t access them…all the clients we have been able to rescue form CMI complain of physical and psychological torture,” the statement reads in part.
Less than a week after the law firm issued the statement, CMI reacted by getting some 35 Rwandans out of their dungeons, and transferred them to police stations in different parts of the country.
There is the plight of people like Julienne Kayirere, a Rwandan woman who was operating a small business in Mubende, in Uganda before she was abducted and thrown into jail. They separated her from her three months old baby after summarily declaring her an “illegal entrant” despite having been in the country operating a business for years.
Kayirere suffers the unspeakable agony of a mother that doesn’t know where her baby is. Apparently these inhumane crimes are of little interest to the Monitor, or any other Ugandan publication for that matter. Rwandan lives; or the suffering of innocent Rwandans are of little concern to them. “Business”, and “opening the border” is all they clamor for.
Daily Monitor reports the big sums of money that Ugandan businesses and traders have lost. In the first three months of the Gatuna border closure to heavy trucks from Uganda, the country lost more than US$ 664 million (Ushs 2.5 trillion) worth of exports to Rwanda.
This figure may have increased at least three times by now and Ugandans including media houses like Daily Monitor, ought to be asking their government the hard questions.
People cannot trade if there is persecution on the other side of the border. There can be no freedom of movement or goods when the intelligence services of one country have declared open season on the innocent citizens of another, as all observers agree.
Yet Uganda has not declared an end to its hostile anti-Rwanda activities.
One would bring to the attention of the Daily Monitor the following words by ordinary citizens in Kigali. “If Museveni and his government are so interested in none-stop abuse and torture of Rwandans, and if they like RNC so much, then let them do business with RNC. They can forget the Rwandan market!”